A Turkish cargo ship detained by British authorities due to appalling conditions on board for the crew is now berthed in Ellesmere Port.
The Essex-based Handy Shipping Guide says unions have described ‘appalling conditions’ aboard the 1,596 ton cargo ship Seccadi with some of the crew reportedly being paid just 66p per hour until union intervention.
It reports maritime unions are ‘up in arms’ over the pay and conditions allegedly being endured aboard the vessel which has been detained by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency at a lay-by berth at Manisty Wharf.
The ship is said to have recently been moved from Runcorn by Peel Ports after languishing there for some time. The Turkish owners, Voda Shipping of Istanbul, have apparently just recently responded to questions from the authorities regarding the status of the Turkish and Indian crew aboard the Panama registered vessel suggests the directory.
Some of the Indian crew are thought to have been aboard for an entire year. Despite the fact that after pressure from the Nautilus Union and the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) a claim amounting to more than £50,000 in back pay has now mostly been settled, problems still remain for those trapped on board.
Nautilus International/ITF ship inspector Tommy Molloy, who lodged protests with the Turkish owners and the Panama ship registry over the ‘shocking conditions’, is said to have found no fresh fruit, vegetables or meat on board the ship. There was a cockroach infestation in the galley.
The guide reports him saying: “When crew are not paid for more than two months, not repatriated and do not have the basic food requirements to sustain a healthy diet, then they are considered to have been abandoned.
“The North West Port Welfare Committee and the good people of Merseyside are rallying round and have taken it upon themselves to look after the crew’s welfare.
“Fresh fruit and vegetables have been provided by the Seafarers Centre who are also ensuring they have adequate shore leave as a diversion from their plight. Others have offered cash donations to cover their basic needs.
“That they do so speaks volumes for their good hearts. That they have to in 2017 is a disgrace.”
He continued: “Everybody concerned has given the operator ample opportunity to resolve this matter. What nobody wanted is another crew stuck here for months on end relying on the goodwill of local people and organisations to keep them alive.
“Having given the crew a period to remain in the UK whilst we attempted to resolve the matter, it seems the Border Force had little option but to advise the owner that they would have to remove the crew and return them to their home countries.
”This would have meant that a replacement crew from outside of the EU would not be allowed into the UK and in all likelihood an application would have been made to the Admiralty Marshall for judicial sale of the vessel to settle all outstanding debts and costs incurred.
“This was a real concern for the crew. If removed by Border Force, they would have ‘Deported’ stamped on their passports. This would have catastrophic consequences for their future careers as seafarers.”
Mr Molloy added: “We have worked with all concerned to try to avoid this outcome.” He says the unions have to be hopeful for a successful conclusion.